It's your party, you can cry if you want to.
I haven't seen so much washing of hands since Monk
went off the air. Megan McArdle
“If Trump wins (or comes close),” writes my friend Tim Lee, “liberals are going to need a better answer than writing half the electorate off as racist.”
No, they won't. We already know that the Republicans will attempt to convince everyone that Trump has nothing to do with the racist, sexist, authoritarian conservative voters that have propelled Trump to the Republican nominee for president of the United States. They will probably be successful, but we don't have to make it easy for them. The Republican Party nominated Trump because the Republican voters wanted him. If the elite don't like their followers they can find new ones.
As the Democratic National Convention lurches off to a chaotic start, let me offer one answer: Hillary Clinton is a terrible, terrible candidate.
McArdle will attempt to equate Trump and Clinton and their parties because Both Sides Do It usually works for conservatives, but these are not usual times. This is Trump we are talking about. It wouldn't matter if Clinton were as dumb as Sarah Palin and as nutty as Michelle Bachmann. She would still be infinitely better than Trump.
Don’t get me wrong: Trump is a terrible candidate too. Both of them have appallingly high unfavorable ratings, and enough name recognition that those unfavorables aren’t likely to change all that much. But the Republican Party can at least say that their problem candidate was foisted upon them when a series of cosmically unlikely decisions by no-hope candidates split the party’s normal factions just long enough for Trump to consolidate what was left over.
McArdle is, of course, wrong. She is almost always wrong about politics. She sees what she wants to see, predicts what she wants to see happen, and ignores anything that threatens her beautiful mind.
The Republicans did this to themselves, which McArdle will never admit. They whipped up anger and resentment against the liberals to get conservatives to the voting booth and they destroyed respect for authority to undermine liberal leaders and policies. They have had a clown's car full of candidates for years but only this year do they have Trump
. The right voted for the lesser of two evils for years, and now they are voting for pure evil, in the political sense. Eventually, that's always what happens when you vote for the lesser of two evils.
The Democrats chose Clinton. Indeed, her party actively beat back alternatives, funneling all the money and the attention to Clinton, who brought all the well-known Clinton baggage with her, and sadly, did not bring any of her husband’s charm, charisma, or skill at working an audience.
None of that matters, because Trump
. However, since McArdle considers Scott Walker, who has all the personality of a ham sandwich, a viable and vital candidate, we couldn't trust her opinion under any circumstances.
McArdle takes a swipe at the DNC as well, which funneled donations back to Clinton, but any genuine problems with Clinton don't matter that much because Trump
. Trump trumps all problems with Clinton, and it is genuinely amusing to think that the right might have beaten her if they had not undermined their own success so thoroughly.
Before I go on, I should stop and say: this is not about whether Clinton would be a good president. This is about getting to the Oval Office in the first place.
Hahaha! No, it's about Trump
. People who don't care about politics will care about keeping Trump out of office. After the Brexit vote I'm no longer certain, but I am almost
certain Trump will lose.
We are not living under a parliamentary system where the party leadership can decide, after a brief internecine squabble, who gets to sit in the big chair. In American politics, you have to actually get elected. It’s not enough to be effective at party politics, or even a wizard at policy. You have to actually be good at making people like you. Something that Clinton has never shown much aptitude for.
No, you have to convince voters that you will run the country better than the other guy. Who is Trump
. Case closed.
Being only middling likable myself, I’m certainly sympathetic. But you see, this is one reason that I am not running for president, and why, if I ever suggested such a daft thing, I would hope that the people around me would stage a tactful yet firm intervention.
This post is noticeable for all the stupid things McArdle says but it's more notable for all the things she doesn't say. McArdle completely ignores the opposite side of her argument. Lawyer, former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State, Clinton is qualified, well-known, and seasoned. She will also be the first female president of the US, something that will excite many voters.
Instead, everyone around her rushed to enable her dream --
Why would they do that? Who would care whether or not one person dreamt of being president? The idea that the Democratic Party was indulging Clinton's ambition is ludicrous. McArdle assumes that everyone else thinks like she does and her explanation of others' motivations only reveals her own lack of emotional maturity. The Democratic Party knew Clinton could raise the money and win so they backed her, just like parties have always done.
and put the party in a position where it now has a real shot at making her the woman who lost the Oval Office, not just to Barack Obama, but also to Donald Trump, a man who clearly struggled over whether to distance himself from the Ku Klux Klan; a man who stage-managed his own convention into a series of own-goals, from his wife’s plagiarized speech to the sight of a primary rival getting booed off the stage; a man who started off his post-convention campaign by rambling about a theorized connection between said primary rival’s dad and the man who shot President Kennedy. Bill Clinton could have defeated Trump with one hand tied behind his back, a bag over his head, and a debilitating case of laryngitis. His wife is, at this point, struggling to hold even. I still think she’s a favorite to win. But it never should have been close enough for anyone to care about the size of Trump’s post-convention bounce.
It's true that Clinton shouldn't be anywhere near Trump in the polls but that's what happens when McArdle's party undermines the country for political gain. Demagogues try to grab office and venal conservatives cheer them along. Bragging that anyone can defeat her party's candidate for presidency just makes McArdle look bad, not Clinton.
Notice that I haven’t even gotten to the e-mails -- a story that broke in March of last year, the point at which it was still, if barely, possible for someone to sit down and say “for the good of the party, I’m afraid you need to develop a serious health issue that will require you to drop out of the race.”
It must kill her that nobody cares about Clinton's servers. If that scandal didn't exist McArdle would find or invent a new reason why Clinton absolutely had to quit or be chased off.
Instead, the left half of the political spectrum solemnly agreed with themselves that this was a non-story, a three-day wonder, nothing for us to worry about. I am sympathetic to this decision only because by that point there was no one else, the entire machine of Democratic politics having been turned into a purpose-built vehicle for the Clinton candidacy. But why did the Democratic power brokers settle on Clinton back then? She could easily have ended up facing a much more viable opponent, like Scott Walker or Marco Rubio or John Kasich.
People who couldn't beat Trump are supposed to beat Clinton? No. Walker is a threat? His legal troubles would drown Clinton's, he destroyed his state's economy, and he's not very bright. Rubio? He practically has "puppet" stamped on his forehead and he couldn't even win Florida, with 27% to Trump's 46%. As political analysis goes, this is childish
How can we explain this? For one thing, I think Clinton’s candidacy -- like Trump’s candidacy, in its own, very different way -- points to the fatal weakness of the political parties. Decades of “good government” reforms have systematically stripped the power that parties once had: to control money, to control committee assignments, to control how much pork politicians get to brag about to the voters back home.
McArdle probably thinks it's clever to blame the results of the Citizen's United decision on people who are trying to get rid of Citizen's United. It is sleazy. McArdle doesn't explain how any of these supposed reforms resulted in Trump; the Party had the money to back Jeb! and Rubio and committee assignments and pork projects have nothing to do with Trump's nomination. The parties lost control over money when Citizen's United opened the doors for billionaires to walk through. The Republicans did this to themselves. Citizen's United was a lawsuit to permit a group to make a movie that was supposed to eliminate Clinton as a candidate. The Republicans fought tooth and nail to destroy themselves and McArdle cheered them along.
Now McArdle tries to pin the right's failure on the left. What else can she do but lie and mislead? She's in the Party of Trump
What’s left is a hollow shell that cannot effectively respond to either grassroots insurgencies or to outsize figures who effectively turn the party apparatus to their own ends. If you think, as I do, that parties play a vital role in organizing political action toward coherent goals and long-term accountability, that’s something that should worry you.
That should worry McArdle, who is now a Trumpette. Too bad the right gave up coherent goals and accountability long ago. They could use some of that now. But we will do our best to watch the right implode without
sobbing in fear like McArdle.
My other working theory is simply that the left committed the cardinal sin known as “reading your own press releases.” The left loved the “demographics is destiny” arguments that seemed to promise them a glorious future of uninterrupted rule. I cannot count the number of liberals who solemnly assured me that there was not going to be a Republican president in 2016, or any other year in the foreseeable future, because demographics.
Evidently she can't name them either. We can safely dismiss any of McArdle's unbelievably convenient unsourced anecdotes and even if we couldn't, her argument would still be dumb. Demographics took a back seat this election because Trump
. The Republicans have created a brave new political world with unlimited money, and so far it's not working out for them.
Now McArdle has to work harder to concern troll liberals and we all know how much she hates that.
These freelance demographers failed to note that these sorts of demographic predictions have been made before, and broken down before, as one or more solid demographic groups suddenly started switching to the other party. The true believers also tended to forget that these predictions were about the future. At this moment, those old white folks are still breathing, and voting.
Is she referring to the Southern switch from racist Democrat to racist Republican? The racists are very happy with Trump, thanks very much, and aren't likely to become Democrats again.
So demographics don't guarantee a win. Neither did the Republicans' choice. As Sean Trende tweeted today: “Hillary is unpopular enough that she has made this basically generic R v generic D. Unreal. She better have a hell of a convention planned.” She’d certainly better, because right now, she and Trump are in a dead heat. She’ll almost certainly pull away again when she gets her own convention bounce. But again: It should never have been this close.
Yes, and what a pity for McArdle that none of that matters because Trump is loathsome and must lose for the dignity, self-respect, and functionality of the country.
If Trump wins the presidency, there will be a lot of reasons, and a lot of blame to go around. But one factor, and some-much deserved blame, will be the decision to anoint Clinton as the candidate long before the primary had even started. I don’t blame Clinton for this, because upwardly mobile politicians like her all think they have what it takes to become president, and they do their utmost to get themselves into that coveted job. But there were a lot of people who ought to have known better. Either they didn't, or they didn’t act on that knowledge. If Clinton doesn’t manage to pull this out, that decision will haunt them for years to come.
It's not easy to simper and scold when you are a Trumpette, but McArdle does her best, or rather her worst.